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Posts Tagged ‘natural history’

Whilst reading through posts from my friends on Facebook I came across one from El Brogit Guiatges which interested me. They are keen to get people involved with the countryside, vineyards and Cellers to promote the great wine of the Monsant region.  You can go on various walks taking from a half day to three/four days, they also aim to promote the natural history and beauty of the Monsant Mountains. So loving wine, being interested in nature and in need of some exercise I decided we would join them on their walk to this Sunday.

Look at the map of the roads in the Monsant and Priorat regions and they appear as thick lines some not as thick but only slightly wiggly.  In real life however they are very wiggly! On a beautiful sunny morning, we took the road from Falset into the mountains along a very sneaky snaky road. Round bends that bent, corners, twists and turns to the top of the pass, from where the view of the valley was encompassing. From here it was a meander into the valley and Porrera, passing people in the fields picking hazelnuts, before taking another road upwards and onwards to our destination in Cornudella de Monsant, where we arrived around 10.00am.

On arrival we were greeted by one of our guides Meritxell a pleasant young lady who spoke good English and introduced us to Sergi our other guide.  After we were all assembled and been handed our tickets for the Celler we set off up through the village and out into the countryside.

I did say walk didn’t I? Well for me it was more of a hike but a very spectacular one.  Walking out of the village we began to climb towards the fields and the top of a ridge. The beginning was about a 30dgs climb, I am not used to this degree of exercise so it was head down one foot forward. Wow! look at the views Siurana to the east, with its lake glittering in the sunlight.

Now the climb was getting steeper, and the younger people were getting ahead of me but they paused to wait for my wife and Meritxell to catch up photographs had been taken.  So turning again we started upwards, it looked so steep and the mesa looked very high, no wonder they have a climbing centre here.  Then we reached a field just below the ridge and stopped for something to drink and a rest.

The views from here were even more beautiful.  Off we set again on the last part of our climb then as they say it was all down hill towards the hermitage of San Juan.  This is an old chapel used by the Cistercian Monks, but even they did not like the long climb so halfway up there is a shrine which they used. As for the farmers, they were so poor that they could not afford a chapel so they made do with a large rock ‘rock of prayer’ where they went to pray when in the fields.

Arriving at the Chapel we found there was a spring and after filling water bottles we wandered round to the front. Here we were divided into two teams and played a game of charades, everyone taking part with laughter.

We had just finished this when a Pirate appeared and handed the two team captains an envelope for the treasure hunt so off we went down towards the lower fields in search of treasure.

Once in the fields the captains opened the envelopes and looked at the treasure map, somewhere in amongst the 60 to 70-year-old vines were two keys which when matched with pictures would reveal the prize.  Well we found the keys and grapes, now what? then we saw a monk walking towards us carrying two bags. He welcomed us and said the captains should match their keys against those on the bags, when they were opened one had a bottle of wine inside the other had pieces of paper one with a mark on it so whoever picked it won the wine.  A young lady won to cheers and laughter (there was a lot of that) we took group pictures then made our way down to the Celler Baronia del Monsant.

These walks are not only interesting but fun. You see the countryside, meet people and generally enjoy a good walk.  If you are interested, you can contact Meritxell or Sergi on www.elbrogit.com/home.html    Happy Walking

 

The Celler

The Celler was a big surprise. Most of the Cellers we have visited were large, but this one is small and like a pocket Venus, small, but perfectly formed.

As you enter there is the shop selling the 6 wines they make here and displaying their prize certificates for their wines. Behind this is the area where in the harvest the grapes are brought to be processed. A young lady called Laura was our guide round the Celler, very helpful and informative.  Unlike other areas, tractors cannot harvest these fields so all picking is done by hand, and because of the weather up here grapes can take longer to ripen.  So they are brought to the Celler in grey boxes not trailors, then processed in the electric machines that like the Celler are small but perfect.

There is the machine where the stalks are separated, next to that is the crusher from where the grapes are pumped downstairs, all on castors so they can be moved around for storage.  Just to one side of the celler door is the bottling unit, and from here 90% of the wine is sold abroad.

Down stairs you find around 14 stainless steel vats, and to my surprise they use the open top method. Here the grape skins float to the top and form a crust which is kept damp by spraying grape juice over them thus preventing bacteria from forming and spoiling the wine.   From here the wine is placed into Oak barrels to mature.  These barrels are made from either American oak which gives the wine a vanilla note and French oak which gives the wine a spicy note.  It is only when the wine has matured that it is blended, until then each variety of grape is processed on its own.  The barrels are dated when the wine is put in and then the date when they are ready for blending is placed near the top so the blender can see when it is ready.

Then we came to the tasting of the 6 wines produced here. The first from the Garnatxa grape was ‘flor d’englora garnatxa 2009’. This wine I enjoyed immensely it was light and a little on the sweeter side which, in my opinion, was perfect for sipping at the end of the day sitting on the terrace watching the stars.  The other wines that followed became increasingly drier, ideal in my opinion, to be drunk with well hung beef or game, the last was a softer blend. But I have to say that my personal preference  was for the flor d’englora garnatxa.

This is an interesting Celler which needs further investigation so I am hoping to visit it again soon. This time to delve more into its history and the blending of the wines. If you would like to taste some of these wines and savour the flavours or match them with various meals you can find them on www.baronia-m.com  or reach them on engloria@baronia-m.com .

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Izzy is back.  The other night I nearly trod on him, he tends to get under your feet and unless you’re aware of him its difficult. Anyway, after a little persuasion he posed for these photos, however I am not sure whether he was still miffed with me or playing ‘I’m standing still so you can’t see me’.

 

The other day when we were tidying the garden, my wife was trimming round the olive tree when she noticed a lizard hunting around in the trimmings. She was quite taken with it as it was not bothered by a couple of humans moving around, rather WE had to watch where we put our feet. I could hear her talking to IZZY (yes she named it) and as she would normally run a mile at the sight of a reptile, I was amazed that she was in fact quite taken with Izzy. He was a brownish colour with a reddish/brown section on his sides.

Anyway after a while we stopped gardening to have some lunch and get ready for Petanca. As my wife was returning from the garden she noticed that Izzy had taken up a position by the walnut tree, from where he could look for food. At last his waiting and searching paid off, a grasshopper landed near him and whoosh he was out grabbed his lunch then sat by the step munching.  I have said before that at times this forest shows a little bit of its magic.

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